Centering prayer is a method of silent prayer that prepares us to receive the fullness of God’s presence and love. It is a discipline of true calm, as we dwell with a God who speaks in the silent moments.
Centering prayer does not replace other types of prayers, but it deepens our connection to God. It moves us from a conversation with God to communion with God.
To begin a time of centering prayer, sit comfortably and attentively in a quiet space. Place your hands in your lap, upright and receptive.
Choose a word, a sacred word, as a symbol of your desire to surrender wholly to God’s presence. This is the word you will repeat whenever a stray thought or distraction enters into your silent space. This word should be at most a few syllables, and it should be a name or characteristic of God (like Father, Lord, Savior, Jesus or Peace, Hope, Love, Light).
Close your eyes and silently think of your sacred word to begin your prayer. Sit in silence and let your mind empty. When you notice your thoughts returning, repeat your sacred word to anchor yourself in this prayer time. Do this as often as the thoughts come.
If you can, pray like this for 20 minutes in the morning and in the evening. It can be hard to sit still and silent for that long at first. You can ease yourself in to the discipline by starting with five minutes at a time, or ten minutes, until you work up to 20 minutes. Don’t be discouraged if you find it hard to empty your mind – it is a discipline, and it takes practice.
The result of Centering Prayer is not a word from the Lord, or some sort of divine revelation. In fact, you should have no goal in mind when you enter into your prayer time. Just sit in the presence of God, in communion with him, showing your love, devotion and surrender by simply being with him. You will see the fruits of this discipline in other parts of your life, often in the form of the fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5:22 – 23).
Pamphlet on Centering Prayer (from www.contemplativeoutreach.org)